Thursday, December 3, 2015

soaring through Christmas

The holiday season is chaotic. Cookie swaps, MOPS Christmas, Christmas tea, school programs (times 4), decorating the home, decorating the church.  Your calendar probably looks very similar. 
With all the busyness, we can miss the real joy.  Joy that comes in the fellowship, the food, the entertainment.  The first day of my Advent study suggested that I rest, really!?  That imperfection is not even noticeable!?  That's crazy talk!  Or is it?
The month of December also bring with it some bittersweet memories for me.  My brother would be turning 39 on December 2nd, but he took his life 16 years ago.  The thought of him, my mother-in-law, and grandparents missing out on the fun of our young children enjoying life makes our hearts ache a little.  Christmas has been in a transition mode for several years now.  The matriarch of the family is gone.  My parents moved during the last two winters.  Many of the "kids" in the family are now getting married and changing their traditions.  It leaves me wondering what traditions do I really need to cling to and why. 
Make Room for Advent study from Naptime Diaries and handmade art journal
The last two years I have taken the time to still myself and read through the Gospels during Advent.  This year I purchased an Advent study from Naptime Diaries and am following along with the Illustrated Faith community for #illustratedadvent.  Taking time to reflect on His Word and create something for myself helps me to put everything into perspective.
I am blessed.  Blessed with the hope that one day I may be able to introduce my brother and mother-in-law to the children they didn't know in this life.  Blessed to have a Savior that is also my King.  Blessed to have the hope of a better tomorrow because He carries me through.
Before the craziness of the season took over I got the opportunity to create a page in my Bible based on that hope.  The song "Soar" by Meredith Andrews is amazing!  I got to see her perform a few years ago with James McDonald and the  "Walk In The Word" tour.   As she was about to perform "Can Anybody Hear Me," she talked about the silence she felt during a time in her life where she was distant from God.  What she said really related to the famine I was going through then, as well.  Feeling like God wasn't listening and was nowhere to be found.  But He was.  He was right there waiting for me to press into Him a little closer and to give Him the troubles I was going through.  I was an instant fan. 
So when her newest single, "Soar," came across the radio I was listening intently.  "I know in everything You're with me.  I know You're working as I wait.  Lift me up on wings like eagles to soar."  She gets me.  We must be soul sisters.  I had to get it out in paint!
Journaling Bible of Rachel Higgins; Isaiah 40:31, Soar
The passage in Isaiah 40:31 says it the same, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will run and not grow faint."  If we choose to put our hope in Christ then we can rise above all the small stuff that can weigh us down. 
This time of year is notorious for unnecessary stress.  We try to do it all and to a memory making Norman Rockwell standard.  I am deciding to choose hope and soar above all the chaos.  I will still make cookies and attend endless concerts, but I will choose to be fully present rather than just barely there. Soaring through the fun and festivities!
Devotional card from Ann Voskamp's "The Greatest Gift" is a reminder to enjoy imperfection.
Side note: After pondering all of this God sent the message home loud and clear through this devotional today.  Amongst the froot loops and backpacks He speaks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

fear is foolish

Way back in the old days, when there weren't any "Journaling Bibles" there were these things called composition books!  I began expressing my faith through art (besides coloring pages) in an altered composition book.  There was a whole learning period and then the second installment of my faith journals was created (below).   "Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs" was a little more organized and planned than the first faith journal.

After lots of experimenting and mistakes I was able to produce something I was proud of.  The process also helped to prepare me for art journaling directly in my Bible.  I found that slathering gesso, scraping paint with a gift card, decoupaging magazine clippings, and attaching anything else from the trash bin into my journal has been very freeing.  Freeing in the respect that I don't worry about what goes in and on my Bible pages.  Yes, I know it's a sacred book, but I also know that art journaling in my Bible has helped me to grow.  Grow in my relationship with Christ.  Grow in my relationship with my family.  And most importantly, grow in my willingness to reach others. 

Everyone has an opinion about how the Bible should be treated and used.  My opinion is somewhat relaxed in this area.  As long as someone is not destroying a Holy Bible in the name of hate or malice, shouldn't it be okay to color or draw in one?  With that said, I am sure that there are some misinterpretations that will go wild with this.  What's new?!

My point is...if you are feeling confined by the printing or too apprehensive to slather a big glob of paint into your Journaling Bible; then try a journal.  If nothing else, it's a place to experiment with mediums (paint, pencils, markers, etc.) or to make notes and draw your ideas while reading your Bible. 

Art is not a specific definition of any kind of expression.  Does that make sense?  It does to me, but maybe I should put it this way; making art is not an all-size-fits-one way of creating.  It's you, showing the world how you feel about something important, with colors and shapes and textures and whatever is visible or tangible!  Musicians, dancers, painters, chefs, performers; these are all referred to as artists, right?  Anyone who creates is an artist.  

God created us in His image.  CREATED!  Did you see that?  He CREATED us in HIS IMAGE.  So that might just mean that we are creative.  This came as an eye-opener to me when I first read it somewhere.  It might have been from Erwin McManus in Artisal Soul.  He put it this way, "We all need to create, to be a part of a process that brings to the world something beautiful, good, and true, in order to allow our souls to come to life."  My friend Brooke, also, told me about a verse in Exodus that affirms this notion; "I have filled him with the Spirit of all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs..."

Don't worry or fear.  Create with a love for your Heavenly Father in mind.  Enjoy the process and be free.  I am excited to see what you are scribbling, splattering, or pasting in your Bible and journals.  Post some pictures on Instagram or Facebook or comment below.  Let's grow together and spread some love and paint!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

salt & light

There are times when I wonder if there is any good left in the world.  In recent weeks and months it seems like the world is an ugly and hateful place.  There are so many people hurting other people that it makes me wonder if my Christian walk is showing bright enough to help lighten up the darkness in this world. 
This past week our neighborhood and the surrounding subdivisions have been the target of burglaries.  Now, I know, there are a lot worse things going on in this world than a few items being stolen, but it's the bigger picture that upsets me.  The burglaries were allegedly committed by some teens from the area that were on fall break with nothing better to do.  This bothered me because these boys probably go to school with my daughter and they are starting their lives out on a very bad path. 
We moved here just 2 years ago because we no longer felt safe in our little house a mile up the road.  We, also, were outgrowing the 1200 square feet with 4 kids who aren't getting any smaller.  Even though this house was only a little over a mile away, it is in a smaller and more stable neighborhood. 
It never felt more like a true 50's style sitcom neighborhood with neighbors on the porches and kids riding bikes than here.  However, I quickly reminded myself that nowhere is immune to evil.  People do stupid all the time. 
 That's why we are here.  We, as believers, are given an opportunity every day to shine in other people's lives.  Matthew 5:13-16 tells us, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Our neighbors, friends, strangers, coworkers, etc. need to see some good in us.  Enough good that it makes us taste different and shine.  We should emanate love.  I heard Bob Goff speak recently and he put it this way, "People should feel like they met Heaven when they are around you."  
Usually, when I hear the phrase, "salt & light" I think of the song by Jami Smith, Salt & Light.  You gotta watch the video if you are a praise junkie, like me.  This song gives me goose bumps and causes me to sing a little louder when the worship team plays it at church.  There is, also, a new song by Lauren Daigle with the same name.   It is a more peaceful tune, but just as impactful. 
It's when I hear songs like these and read the words He has given us in Scripture, that I feel led to create in my journaling Bible.  I can't always get it exactly like my head sees it, but that doesn't hold me back from trying.  I usually go to a few different sources to get inspiration, like Pinterest or Google images for the visual part.  Sometimes it can be very helpful to read the verse in it's context and research the concordances. usually has all the information I need.  It's an awesome free resource.  Yes, free! 
If the process began without the inspiration of a song then I can find some related songs through a Christian song database like Word to Worship or Worship Together.  There is also an amazing podcast and website by Michelle Nezat that chronicles this exact concept.  She links worship and praise songs with the verses that have inspired them.  I love listening to her podcasts and hearing what her take is on the songs that I have heard on the radio or sung in church.  Side note: she also has beautiful memory verse screen savers!

Once I have spent more time than I should on the internet and in my Bible, then I try to get it all worked out on paper and into my Bible.  For this spread, it was fairly simple. I found a poster that reflected something similar.  I changed it up a little to fit the margins of my Bible and my style.
Typically, I coat the pages with matte Modge Podge and then add the art.  This time I sketched it out in pencil then traced it with markers.  A little pastel chalks were added around the light and salt shaker.  I decided to add a sticker at the top to make a tab. 

That's it.  Plain and simple. 
Shine bright and season your world!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

paint & praise

There have been so many styles of music that have come into my life throughout these last 40+ years.  My parents were quite young when they married, so I kind-of grew up with them.  It didn't hurt that both of my parents were the eldest child in their perspective families.  Needless to say, I was surrounded by mostly teenagers and adults for the first five years of my life.  There were sounds of seventies pop, Black Sabbath, honky tonk, Lawrence Welk, and Mel Torme ruminating through my little head.  I can't remember hearing any hymns until we started church shopping after my brother's birth. 

Journaling Bible zentangles on title page with watercolors @faithfullymappingmyway
title page of my journaling Bible

Organ music and a prestigious choir were part of the church I grew up in.  The sermons were lifeless and dry to me.   Like many young adults, I had to decide, for myself, that this religion thing was really for me.  God really got my attention when I met my husband.  We renewed our relationship with the Lord and began a journey to grow closer to Him.  As part of our adventure to discover God for ourselves we started attending a church with a "modern" worship service.  I had never experienced anything like it before.  At first, I wondered if this was okay to do.  For some reason, it seemed like I was breaking some kind of religious rules or was in the wrong kind of church or something.  Worship and church has never been the same since. 

We attend a different church now, but the music is still rockin' and moving.  However, praising God doesn't have to include music, but I doubt that it would be half as meaningful and Spirit filled.  Music has so many qualities that affect us all.  Psalm 71:23 is only one of so many of the verses in Psalm that tells us, "My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; And my soul, which You have redeemed.  It's only natural that we grow closer and feel the presence of God when we are praising Him.  He says that we will spend our eternity praising Him, Rev. 4:8.   Watch Jon Egan, of Desperation Band, discuss the story behind the song "God Be Praised."

It's important to me for the worship songs I enjoy to relate to scripture.   Just as a sermon ought to be tested against His Word; a song that speaks to my soul, enough to make it an act of worship, should be scripturally sound.  Plus, it's fun to see exactly how the artists interpret His Word into music.  If I am lucky, then the song and verse will speak to me in another way... through my art journaling. 

Did you ever have that assignment in art class where you listened to a classical score with a huge tub of crayons and a big sheet of white paper in front of you?  Me too!  Art can be inspired by music and vice versa.  Why should it be limited to classical music?!  In the weeks and, hopefully, months to come I will highlight a song and verse that have inspired my art.  If this includes my journaling Bible, then all the better, but it is not meant to be too restrictive.  I want to challenge myself to bring art and joy back into my worship.  Music serves as a jumping point for both of these.

I would love to know what songs really inspire you!  Give me a comment below.  More information on scripture, art and songs will come your way very soon.  Be sure to subscribe by e-mail or Bloglovin' (to the right) to get the latest posts!  Blessings!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

catching up on life

My quiet absence of posts has been the result of a deep depression and very busy life.  My kids went back to school in late July, one of which started high school.  My son began playing on the tennis team.  Joy was gone from my day to day life.  Unless you have dealt with the turmoil of feelings that are part of depression, it is hard to understand.  Many people think you can just snap out of it.  Not really.  Without getting into a potentially controversial discussion about the ins and outs of depression I will end the conversation with a heartfelt, sorry I was gone.

Being in God's Word and learning more about Him are always a big contributor to my happiness.  I really enjoy serving others, but sometimes it can deplete me.  This past month I have been teaching the two and three year olds at our church during the service time.  I really miss worship and hearing from our pastor when I am serving.  This doesn't help the gloomy cloud over me when I am feeling low.  The cute little faces that tug at my pant leg and tell me cute stories warm my heart, but it's nothing like being in collective worship with other believers.

MOPS theme for 2015, Isaiah 55:12
Isaiah 55:12 in my Bible
An amazing blessing came through the experience I was given through the MOPS Mom Convention a few weeks ago.  The theme of the MOPS ministry this year is from Isaiah 55:12, "For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."  Encouraging mothers and women to celebrate lavishly, embrace rest, and notice goodness is a monumental task.  However, the team from the MOPS International office brought in some amazing speakers, authors, and performers that made it a realistic goal for us as women and mothers.

MOPS Conventions Indianapolis 2015
MOMCon 2015
When my MOPS Coordinator asked me to speak a little about what affected me most during that weekend I couldn't narrow it down to just one or two thoughts.  I felt freed to be creative again.  The realization that I need time to create and meditate on God's Word was very liberating.  I can't grow in relationship with Him if I don't spend time with Him. 

Margaret Feinberg spoke during one of the main sessions at this event.  Let me just say, she is a tiny powerhouse of a woman.  Her life and her work are inspiring to say the least.  When I came down from my post-convention high I looked into several books and videos by some of the speakers.  Margaret was one of them.  Enjoying God: Experiencing Intimacy With The Heavenly Father by S.J.
Enjoying God book by S.J. Hill
Hill (with Margaret Feinberg) happened to be checked in at my local library. 

The littlest of my munchkins got loaded in the van and off to the library we went.  This book has been a huge eye opener.  The stories and writing by Hill to describe the relationship we have with our Heavenly Father are like  missing links in my faith.  So many reasons that I didn't have that personal relationship with God are explained. 

Because of this new outlook on the love that my God has for me, I have a renewed spirit.  If I create a spread in my journaling Bible or not, that's okay.  The time I have spent with my God is enough.  He just wants me.  My feeling is that He will lead me to the ways He wants me to commune with Him.  If it's through singing at the top of my lungs, spreading paint with my fingers, or reading Bible stories with kids on my lap, I am growing closer to Him.  

So...if I don't always post about and inspiring passage and journal page that resulted please forgive me.  My relationship with Christ is growing in many different directions and I kinda like it.  My hope is that I can continue to be artsy in my faith, but it's not about what I want.  Remembering that I have four children and a husband to nurture is more important.  Popularity of posts and how accepting everyone is of my art is just fluff.  It's wonderful to be appreciated and valued by all of you, but God's got my heart.  It's Him I need to offer up my art, children, and life to.

Now go do something that worships God and warms your soul at the same time.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Open the Bible and point method.

Have you ever challenged God to do that?  "I'm going to open my Bible and the first verse that pops out will tell me how to solve all of life's problems."  Yeah, right. 

Journaling Bible art in Jeremiah 29:11 with stickers, hand lettering and gesso.
Jeremiah 29:11
When there is a problem at work, you go to your supervisor.  When the kids need help dealing with a situation at school they go to Mom or Dad.  Naturally, we look to our Maker for help when we are without answers.   Is there a Bible verse that has spoken to you during a trying situation?  A special passage that moved you when you needed it most. 

During our Sunday Bible class, several believers said that it was hard for them to want to read the Bible on a daily basis.  However, they also admitted that when they were faced with hard circumstances they turned to His Word for help. 

God tells us that we are to come to Him for peace and assistance in times of trials.  David did it over and over.  If you have read any of the Psalms you will know that many of them are requests for help.  Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and it's very insightful into how we can use the Word.  "Let my tongue sing of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.  Let Your hand be ready to help me, For I have chosen Your precepts."  The Psalmist is telling me that he has relied on the Lord and studied His word, so he is confident that the Lord will help him.

Journaling Bible in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you."   With a handmade tag and torn map.
So where have you found comfort and guidance?  Have you found words or art that adequately express the emotion you have for that verse?  Be blessed and let His Word speak to you today.

Matte who?

Matte decoupage and gel watercolor crayons used for art journaling in my Bible.Art journaling was my passion just before diving into Bible journaling (or journaling in my Bible).  While learning about art journaling and all the sorts of mediums, I began using lots of matte decoupage and matte gel medium to glue and seal my projects and pages.  They are, both, wonderful products.  The gel is just more thick than the decoupage.

Well, I got to wondering....could I actually use decoupage as a sealer for my Bible pages.  So I took the risk and tried it on the very first page of scripture in the Bible, Genesis 1!  I applied a thin layer of my favorite matte decoupage, Aleen's, to the entire page and dried it with my heat gun.  When I do this, I always put a piece of parchment paper under the page to prevent the next page from gluing to the page I am sealing.  Then, I colored around the edges with some up & up watercolor gel crayons and Crayola Twistable Slick Sticks.  These work much like gelatos and are much more affordable.  They just aren't as high of a quality and don't come in the variety of colors.  This part of the process takes more experimentation and is just a matter of artist interpretation.  I really like the gold Slick Stick color because you can add just a couple scribbles of it and it will add a slight shimmer to the area where you "paint" it. 
Journaling Bible page in Genesis with stickers for Creation days.Journaling Bible art in Genesis with watercolor gel crayonsAfter drying with the heat gun I added some number stickers from Mambi to label each of the days of the Creation.  The pages is still a little crumpled looking, but it will smooth out a little while the pages are closed and under the weight of the Bible itself.  It's a simple page, but I like it.   Trust your instincts and try something new!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"You're gonna ask God to do what?"

Beware: this post is like my inner dialogue written out!  Posting, Bible study, and just about anything has been really difficult lately.  I suffer from depression.  Many of you, unfortunately, have probably been there. 
Spring has finally gotten to my part of the world, but, to me, it just feels like one more thing to deal with.  All the closet cleaning, planting, painting, muddy shoes, wet doggy feet, and so much more. 
I have been waiting for this fog to lift, but I also haven't been in The Word much.  How can I expect things to happen and resolve when I have forgotten who to talk to when things get tough?!
 It's like the stereotypical adage of a woman, when asked "what's wrong?" answers "Nothing."  God knows all.  He knows what I am going through.  But I still need to bring it to Him.  I need to make sure my heart is right, too.  If I am truly seeking Him and what He wants for my life, then I can come to Him with any burdens and sorrows. 
I was listening to a recording by pastors Francis Chan and James McDonald the other day.  The Holy Spirit convicted me of the way I have been dealing with some personal situations lately.  I realized that I was hurting one of God's children with my bad attitude and hurtful words.  Francis Chan talked about a church member who came forward for prayer in dealing with an illness.  When Francis talked later with this young man he asked him if he had any issues that would be keeping him from being completely open with God.  The young man shrugged off some little issues and then muttered something about his girlfriend.  Francis found out, through some probing, that this man was living with his girlfriend and was not in a sexually pure relationship with her.  I loved Francis' reaction.  He said something like, "And you want me to go to God with you and ask for help?!"  He remarked, "That's like you sleeping with my daughter and then coming to me to ask for a favor!"  Man, that hurt. 
Things aren't miraculously wonderful today.  However, I, now, know that I need to begin with my own heart and my own relationship with God.  The Holy Spirit tends to slap me upside the head like this sometimes.  Probably, because I need it!  Later that day, I was going through a class from Shanna Noel.  At the end of the session she challenged me to find a verse about peace and strength.  I had lots of trouble finding one.  After looking through an old art journal I found a note about relying on God in rough times with 1 Peter 4:12-13 noted next to it.  After looking up the verse, I quickly got out some art supplies and went at it.  I was interrupted many times and had to make dinner. (I can't get those kids to stop eating!)  After many breaks I was fairly happy with what I was taught and what I had made that day.

Art journaling Bible page inspired by 1 Peter 4: 12-13 with acrylic paint in green and yellow.
1 Peter 4:12-13
It was like the preverbial bandage that got ripped off the wound.  But then there was this smooth and clean skin underneath.  God's discipline is not always easy to take, but it brings about some amazing growth and joy.  I encourage you to really dive in to the Word.  Let it speak to your heart and hands.  Don't let rules and restrictions keep you from creating what your heart is speaking to your Father.  Be blessed.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A popular word

Art journaling Bible page inspired by the Great Commission with a map and stickers.
Matthew 28:19 Go make disciples, baptizing &
 teaching them to obey
I guess I picked a trending "Word of The Year" to guide my Christian walk throughout 2015.  GO.  However, inspiration hadn't really hit me until this week.  Dozens of pins with globes in Bibles have come across my Pinterest feed.  But, I am secretly a non-conformist.  I didn't want a globe being the only idea that conveyed one of the most important instructions in the Bible. 

When I came across the "Logos 365 Challenge" from His Kingdom Come I was already in the midst of reading "Follow Me" by David Platt.  My husband and I have studied it as part of an eclectic mix of 20 to 50 somethings study group.  It's awesome.   This book and study make it abundantly obvious that I am not keeping up my part of the bargain with Jesus.  He saved me.  The least I could do is tell people how exciting and wonderful my life has been since. 

I was also at a crossroads in my life.  Feeling stuck doesn't even begin to describe it.  There had to be change, but first it involved me getting out of my physical and mental rut to get my groove back.  So, the word "go" seemed fitting for the personal, physical, and spiritual focus for my year.

Art journaling Bible page "For I know the plans I have for you" with stickers, map, and gesso
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans
I have for you
The approach of April and the end of my Sunday School study caused me to feel like I needed to cement this idea on to paper.  Well, Modge Podge it onto paper anyway. 

I had used an atlas on another spread a few months ago so I didn't want to just repeat the look for Matthew 28:19.  Thinking about the sphere of influence that I have in "making disciples" gave me the idea to look in my car for a map of our city.  Score!  There was a downtown visitors guide in the side pocket of my rockin' mini van! 

The map served as my color palette and off I went.  You can see the process in one of my first youtube videos.  I am learning as I go, so please bear with the glare from the white pages.

Do you have a "Word of The Year?"  Share what and why in the comments below.  I would love to hear what you are doing to explore that theme so far this year and if you have journaled it in your Bible.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

My Bible art flip through.

Spring Break.  There is no break for this momma.  A few years ago I realized why mothers go through the "empty nest syndrome."  It's because your life is in constant overdrive for 18+ years (or 28, in my case) and then you are left with all the wreckage. 

I have not been able to enjoy much art/me time in the past month.   So, I thought I would share what I have done in my Journaling Bible during the past six months or so. 

You tube and I haven't gotten very acquainted yet.  I had children and a dog making lots of noise while I tried to record.  An attempt was made to try to change the audio and it didn't quite work out how I would have liked.  However, that leaves me something to do in about 15 years from now.  When I feel like I don't have anything to do.  Enjoy and Easter blessings!

Monday, March 23, 2015

How do you keep up?

A few weeks ago I was walking down the hall after MOPS to retrieve my youngest.  One of the moms came alongside me and said that she had seen some of my Bible pages on instagram.  She made some very gracious and sweet compliments and then wondered how I did it.  More specifically, she wondered how I made time to journal.  There was a journaling challenge that I had mentioned in a previous post that she had joined.  I was honored and excited that she would consider these groups just upon my opinion.  However, she was feeling pressured by the journaling challenges.  Yet again, I felt honored (and a little prideful) that she thought I had it all together enough to be doing this wonderful artsy stuff all the time.  NOT! 
I hadn't done any journaling in weeks.  How could I appear like an artfully talented momma of four to this young mother?!    There had actually been one of those cartoon rain clouds following me around for a few weeks.  My husband, of course, asked, "Did I do something?"  I, honestly, couldn't give him a definitive answer.  It's not him, it's not the kids, it's not the weather.  Then I realized.  I had been letting the voices of comparison, self-hate, and uneasiness settle into my heart.
None of us have it together!  Do we?  That's what we are here for.  Earth.  Life.  It's training for the life of "all together."  That's the perfection that I'm striving for.  I have no idea if I will have the artistic creativity that I desire when I get to Heaven, but I have a feeling that it won't really matter.  While I am here, in this town, with this imperfect life, I will use my art to keep sane and praise my God. 
So when this young lady asked how I could find the time to keep up with frequent journaling I explained my stance on it.  "Do what you feel led by the Spirit to do.  Journaling challenges are great prompts; ways to get the creative juices flowing."  As mothers and women we feel compelled to do it all and do it amazing!  "I do what I can when I can," is my stance.  Sometimes, my sanity depends on it and sometimes my family depends on me.  I have to trust that the Lord will give me the time to come to him in this form of worship when it's appropriate.

Art journaling Bible in Romans 3 and 5 with a hymnal page and illustration.
Romans 3:25 and Romans 5:8
Today was the first day in a weeks that I was able to take a few minutes to do a very simple page from the Take Me Deeper challenge.  It only happened because the weather broke and my kids went outside for a few minutes to play.
When it comes to Jesus's death or the sacrifice on the cross I just don't have the words or means to express that depth yet.  My artistic abilities are basic so I decided to let music speak for me.  An old illustration and  hymnal page were layered with ink and washi tape.   The tip-out leaves me the freedom to change the page whenever the ability comes or the Spirit moves. 
My three year old came in after having enough bike riding to hold the Bible open for a picture.  There was a rainbow on the page coming from the prism in the window.  She and this prism have a history.   We have been catching rainbows since she was old enough to sit upright and touch them on the carpet. 
Take heart mommas of little ones.  Life will let up a little, every once in a while.  Don't always try to catch up with dishes and laundry.  Spend some time at his feet Martha.  When God calls you to come to Him, you will be replenished.  Dawn and dishes don't bring soul fulfilling joy (no pun intended).  Take time these coming weeks of Lent to see how He stirs your heart.  Whether it's writing it down, drawing it, taking a photo, or stoking the rosy cheeks of a small person.  Art is what He has created that stirs joy within your soul.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

DIY Bible tabs

Art journaling Bible chapter tabs made from mini tagsIt's about 2:15pm as I sit down to reflect on the day.  Wait, the day is really only a little over half done!  Anyway, I reflect on all that was accomplished this morning.  Up, dressed, makeup and hair done, four loads of laundry, breakfast for four kids, one preschooler dressed and pig-tails on head, sink full of dishes washed, lunch made and cleaned,
blueberry cake made, trip to dentist to fill my first cavities, pictures taken of Bible tabs, reading of Berenstain Bears books, and one preschooler quietly napping.  Dare I say it?  Life is good!  I better knock on some wood right now...tap, tap, tap.  Any second, the neighbor will start his dual exhaust truck and wake up the napper or the dog will eat the cooling blueberry cake or something.  Days don't normally go this well.  That's why I am relishing the quiet moment to sit and reflect with you.

Now back to business.  The debate in my head as to whether or not I should add tabs to my Journaling Bible has been going on for a few months now.  Busyness has kept me from settling this debate until yesterday.  I decided, on a whim, that I would finally put in tabs.  Then it took some time to decide.

Art journaling Bible chapter tab with acrylic letter First, I thought I would print tabs that I saw on a Pinterest search.  But, I wanted something a little less formal and tidy.  Is it okay to have an un-tidy Bible?  Well, I hope so.  Secondly, I thought about stapling these acrylic letters from American Crafts to the corresponding chapter, but I didn't have nearly enough J's or M's or E's.  Have you ever taken a good hard look at the Contents page of your Bible?  Interesting material there.

DIY journaling Bible chapter tab suppliles
Mini tags used for journaling Bible chapter tabsI settled on these mini tags from DCWV.  They ended up looking much better than I had imagined.  AND with 180 pieces, I was bound to have enough for all 66 books of the Bible.  I glued one to each side of the title page for each book.  The question remains if I will write the abbreviated book titles on the tabs or not.  It looks so colorful and cute right now.  It would be like tattooing a baby.  On that note.  Find something that works for you in your journaling Bible.  Tabs or no tabs.  Organized or eclectic.  Let it be yours.

 Art Journaling Bible chapter tabs completed with mini tags

Friday, February 27, 2015

Learning to rest

Journaling Bible page inspired by John 13:34-35;  love one another
John 13:34-35 inspired by Take Me Deeper
So, I have been deeply entrenched in Lent studies with She Reads Truth and Nurturing Joy, with Elizabeth Foss.  Life is, also, becoming more hectic by the minute.  Four children with interests, church groups, retreats and appointments take most of the time that's left.  Today the middle girl is sick and the youngest has been battling sleep.  Life doesn't stop for Mommy Time. 

Blogging is my way to commune with the other people who share my interests and to release the thoughts that clutter my mind.  So when life gets crazy, I have to prioritize on the fly.  That means that blogging takes a back seat. 

Oh, did I mention that I have also been (finally) painting and organizing our living room/toy room?!?  It's not like I am busy or anything.  In all honesty; I would rather be busy than bored. 

Journaling Bible page inspired by Joel 2:13 with stickers and hand lettering.
Joel 2:13 inspired by She Reads Truth Lent Study

Therefor, I will be showing you some of my past work in my Bible.  I am trying to stay up with my Take Me Deeper challenge while doing the Lent studies.  These pictures are from those studies and challenge.

You can see what I am doing during the quiet blogging periods on instagram.  My link is to the right.  Enjoy and I hope you are finding peace and rest during this Lenten season.

Journaling Bible art for Psalm 46:10 in stickers and paint of orange and blue.
Psalm 46:10 inspired by the Restore Study from Nurturing Joy

Journaling Bible art with a stencil, stickers, and scrapbook paper.
Micah 6:8 inspired by the Restore study from Nurturing Joy

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sticker Bible

People have been sticking things in their Bibles since they were first bound in books.  At least I would think so.  I have known some mothers who put pictures throughout the pages of their Bibles.  I have placed printed verses in their perspective places.  Of course, there are bookmarks and ribbons. 

Our Bible covered in stickers and labeled for character traits.But, what about stickers?  Why couldn't we plaster our Bibles with stickers?  My children and I decorated a, less than beautiful, Bible a couple of years ago.  This is our verse finder Bible.  I marked dozens upon dozens of verses throughout this Bible for quick reference when we needed a little help with discipline or emotional needs or parenting or whatever life brings.  Some would gasp if they saw this Bible, but we love it.  We use it often and it sits out on the shelf for ready use.  It's not our every day reading or carry to church Bible.  We have plenty of those for each of the six members of the family.  At last count, we had at least 26 Bibles in our home.  That doesn't count the e-Bibles on our phones or tablets.

When a piece of scripture moves me; my first inclination is to write or make something to explain that thought or emotion.  Sometimes that involves paint or pens, but it may also include some premade craft items like stickers.  If it helps me to explain what I am feeling or sensing from the Holy Spirit, then I am all for it.  God created us.  He's in the business of creating things.

Ornament storage box used for journaling Bible sticker storage.

I like alphabet stickers, journaling stickers and premade faith stickers.  I am still experimenting with the print labels.  My printer is new and my learning curve is enormous.  Clear labels are great because you can still see through if the label happens to cover the print in your Bible.   Avery makes several different sizes and shapes of clear labels.  I have picked up some awesome faith stickers at Hobby Lobby and Michaels.  You can find something in most craft stores.  Create something beautiful in your Bible today.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Do you consider your doodles art?

I have not, personally,  run in to many negative thoughts concerning Bible journaling.  However, I have read some comments from other journalers who have run in to some adversity.  One mom even asked fellow facebook journalers if it would be okay to let her daughter create art in her Bible just like her mom.
There is no right or wrong way to worship our God is there?  We are told in Colossians 3:17, "whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus."   We all have different ways to enjoy our time with the Lord.  As a mom, I also have many different obstacles in my schedule that prevent me from having a structured time to be with God. 
There are three girls and one boy in my care.  As parents, one of our mains goals is to nurture their spiritual growth.  Including my kids in Bible journaling and creating art is so much fun.  My girls, especially, love to draw, paint, and color.  Sitting around our craft table working together is precious to me.  Not only are they learning to color code their Bibles, but also a few Scriptures.
Children's Bibles are illustrated.  Many classical pieces of art are Biblically based.  What would this world be without inspiration?!  We marvel at Michaelangelo's beautiful murals at the Sistine Chapel.  Maybe, one day, our children will marvel at the insightfully beautiful drawing we made in our Bibles.  Go ahead, color in your Bibles. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Journaling Bible Challenge

Like many of you, I am new to journaling in my Bible.  I have loved to write in journals since I could lock my own diary.  Then a few years ago I began to make mixed media journals.  Then I saw all these pictures on Pinterest of Bible with writing, stickers, and coloring in them!
After reading a couple blog posts and searching for more and more I was hooked!  I had recently been challenged by a Bible study, that I was doing through church, to be into the Word every day.  I have always tried to make this a priority, but have fallen short many times.  Let me tell you, now I can't wait to get into my Bible and find something that moves me to create.
As mentioned in a previous post, I like to do the M'Cheyne daily Bible readings.  While I read through the daily scriptures, I note anything that stands out to me or highlight it on my e-Bible.  Then I go back, when time allows, to do a more in-depth study of what stood out and create what speaks to me.
Sometimes I can go a few days or even weeks without seeing anything new or art worthy.  That's when I am grateful for the weekly challenges that abound on the internet.  I had joined a group that creates art in various forms for a 52-week scripture study just before the new year.  At His Kingdom Come's website they create a weekly in depth study of a scripture through the Take Me Deeper group.  This group of amazingly creative people have made journal spreads, digital art, photographs, and dolls to reflect their interpretation of the scriptures. 

Journaling Bible art for Proverbs 28:1 with a watercolor lion.
My week 2 interpretation of Rebekah Jones's challenge
Rebekah Jones hosts her own challenge and usually includes a video of her process in her Bible.  Patter Cross of Triple The Scraps has a challenge of her own.  She has been doing a 26-week study that is bi-weekly through the year.  Patter challenges her followers to make whatever kind of paper crafting you love and display it on the facebook group.  Or you can be like Valerie Weiner and try to do a page a day!
There are several Google+ and facebook groups out there to join and share or to get inspired.  How will you challenge yourself this week.  Get into the Word and get into your crayon box!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Perfection only breeds headaches and yelling.

Bible reading and study while raising children isn't a chore.
Bible reading whenever it allows.
Recently I have been bombarded with messages of simplicity and minimalism.  This kind of constant reminding is usually a prompting from God, in my opinion.   I am not a hoarder, by any means.  However, because of the chaos that goes on with four kids and a dog, I am always looking for a way to control the chaos.  Let me tell you right now.  Don't try.  The only thing I have found that works and stays is getting rid of the chaos. 
Because three of my four children are challenged by their attention span and listening skills, I have to take charge of their surroundings.  Most of the time they don't even realize the small things I do to help keep them focused like removing all items from the homework area except our pencil caddy.  I keep all the electronics corralled in another room with the cords.  The TV isn't turned on when they come in, etc.
I say this because we have been working, as a family, to remove even more distractions.  Yesterday each child went through their shoes, clothes, and drawers to remove anything they don't like or don't wear.  We filled a large garbage bag and set it aside for the battered women's shelter.  I have only run into resistance if I try to steamroll over their choices and purge while they are at school.  Yes, it's harder and takes longer to do it with them.  But, so does any life skill that they need to learn by doing.
I got an twitter update today to let me know that Sarah Mae has a book out that is on sale and, guess what, it's about minimizing!  I tell you all this, because my schedule is already full and I have fallen behind on my Bible reading.  I hear some gasps.  I used to feel like this was a cardinal sin, myself.  However, as I grow as a mother and disciple, I realize that I can only do what I can do for that day.  My children need me.  My husband needs me.  Friends and family need me.  It goes without saying that God needs me.  God needs me to be there for these same people.  He knows I can't always get my Bible reading in on days when my children want to play outside on an unusually warm winter day.  He knows my reading comes at the end, or sometimes not at all, of a busy Friday of shopping, meetings, and play dates. 
I have a huge chunk missing from this past week's reading log.  Did you catch that in the picture up there?  But, you know what?  I'm kind of proud of that empty space.  "Be still and know that I am God," from Psalm 46:10, tells us that sometimes we are to just enjoy God, His creation, and His gifts.  He knows my heart.  And He knows my limits.  Perfection just brings out the yelling and headaches.  Not the calm and sweet.
Goals and schedules are okay.  You have to have a little guidance to help you through your day, but being a slave to it removes God from the picture.  The Bible reading becomes a duty instead of a time of worship and fellowship with God.  I like to try to follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan that takes you through the Bible in a year.  There is also a Bible study that my husband and I take part in during Sunday school at our church.  So, I do have some things that I try to follow, but I know there are times that life takes the chunk of my reading log instead of a list of scripture passages.  It's okay, for now.  One day, I will not have a house full of chaos and I will probably miss it.  Then is when I will be able to pour over my Bible and delve deeper in the Word.  Right now, I delve into my family and friends

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Even when devastation hits

My brother, Christopher Walsh, and the Chancellor of West Dean College inspecting a bass he had built.
My brother, Chris, with the chancellor
at West Dean College, UK. (1999)
On August 13th of 1999 my brother, Chris, decided he could no longer suffer the emotional heartache of depression.  He was a talented and ambitious young man of 22 years, who had just graduated from the prestigious West Dean College in Chichester, England.  Chris had studied there as a violin maker, a luthier.  He was facing many life changing decisions and was told, by his then girlfriend, that she would not move to America with him.
On a weekend while my parents where out of town, Chris was buying a gun and making plans for someone to check on him.  My husband and I suspected he was hurting and tried to invite him to our home while my parents were away, but he was an adult; he was allowed to make his own choices.  He chose to end his hurt by ending his life.   
My parents felt they could no longer live steps away from where my brother took his life.  They took all the tools and belongings my brother had shipped over from England to a new home.  The boxes sat for 14 more years in a barn.  After deciding to move again  they asked me to find a home for the tools, wood, and various luthier items that had once belonged to my brother.  During the latter part of 2014, I asked all my musician friends, charity organizations, and a local violin shop if they would want my brothers things.  No charge!   No one wanted them.  No one really seemed to care.  It was a little unsettling and sad.
My parents and I have come to a point where we can move along with life where the happy days out number the sad ones.  However, being people of faith, we have always wondered what God had planned when He knew this would happen.  Don't get me wrong.  We never blamed God.  My brother was a growing young Christian who wanted us to know he had made peace with God before this all took place.  But the whole tragedy left us wondering "why."   I imagine anyone in our circumstances has the same questions.  Many people struggle the rest of their lives with these sorts of questions and never feel peace.  We may not have gotten an answer, but I do feel like we have found some peace.  My brother's death allowed us to help friends and family who are dealing with the suicide of a loved one or friend.  But these tools in my garage just seemed wasted.  Then I got an email from my oldest daughter's orchestra teacher.
Shad Peters lost his entire business in a New Year's Eve fire.On December 31, 2014, a young father by the name of Shad Peters, of Peters Guitars, had a devastating fire in his shop.  Shad is, by my perception, a God-fearing talented artist who was being refined by this fire.  From the things I had read from his family and friends, his dreams and 10 years of hard work had, literally, gone up in smoke.  The insurance company told him that they would only be able to cover the costs of the garage structure and the personal property he had in the garage/shop; like his computer and stereo.  None of his tools, hand made instruments and accessories, power equipment, and hand-picked wood would be covered by the insurance.  The total estimation of replacement would total over $70,000!
There are fundraising efforts under way at Go Fund Me, but how will he replace all the time and struggle?  That's where we as fellow humans step in and take on some of the load.  God tells us to bear each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2).  Most of the time, it's not a burden to whoever takes on a little bit of someone else's load.  It's a blessing.  When I read about the plight of Shad's family I was grinning ear to ear and bouncing in my chair.  "This is it, this is it!" is all I could think.
I was able to contact Shad by email and find out if he would like my brother's wood, hand tools, forms, and other luthier items that had been stored for over 15 years (picture right).   He immediately sent back a message that he would love to come get them and would make arrangements to be here the next day!  He lives about 65 miles north and needed to borrow a truck to come get the crates and boxes that were still packed the way they were the day they left England. 
Let me just say; you should never invite a stranger to come to your house without some kind of plan.  I researched Shad's story and felt he was a reputable person, but I still let my neighbor and husband know the details of the event.  However, I think Shad was more nervous than I was.  Who wouldn't be?  I felt like I was on the blessing end of the deal.  He was probably feeling vulnerable and nervous going to someone's home and not knowing what would happen when the door opened.  Too many bad Craig's list stories where going through my mind (and probably his). 
After we introduced ourselves I showed him to the garage and opened each of the boxes.  There were lots of tools and wood to show him and lots of  questions about the things that were totally foreign to me.  I grabbed some drawings for a violin design out of the biggest crate before it was last on the truck. 
We talked for a moment about the way all this came together and I came away in total awe at how God planned it all!  I hope to one day be able to visit his new shop. My mother was glad to know that I had found the perfect home for all the beloved items she held tight for so many years. 
I believe that it helps the heart to heal when you can help someone else through your own pain.  We have to bear our souls sometimes.  It's a vulnerability that is totally scary, but so worth it!  Be blessed by being a blessing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Who said that worship has to involve singing or music.  It's an every day, every event, every thought, way of being with God.   As mothers, wives, daughters, caretakers, and more we don't have the time or energy to take on another task.  God doesn't see our lives like that.  We don't have to stop everything and pick the perfect song and memory verse to praise Him.  He tells the Romans through Paul that everything they do should be an act of worship.  I don't know about you, but my life doesn't always seem worshipful.

Journaling Bible page inspired by a challenge on Romans 12:1-2 with stickers and a magazine page.
Romans 12:1-2
The Take Me Deeper scripture prompt for this week was Romans 12:1-2.  In reflecting on this verse, while I created the journal and Bible pages, I realized that giving myself in worship is a
transformation.  God transforms us in tiny ways each day just like a potter with clay.  Slowly pushing and sculpting and removing the thick clay between His fingers. 

There are times when I realize God has been working on a certain area that I need to improve and then there are other times that I just fight the molding process with tooth and nail.  I am a much different person than I was 20 years ago.  Hopefully, for the better and only because of God's patience and grace.

My Take Me Deeper art journal spread for the "transformation" challenge.
My Take Me Deeper art journal
I want to intentionally let God lead me through every step of my day and with every word.  Therefore, my Logos 365 word for the year is "go" because I don't usually let God lead me where I need to go.

Little by little we make small adjustments to look, act,  and sound more like Christ.  In each thing you do today, worship Him.  Enjoy this little skit guys Worship video, to help bring it all together.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Treating your Bible pages to prevent bleeding.

There are so many wonderful types of medium to use in your art, but they don't all work on Bible pages.  I have ripped pages that were too wet and bled through stacks of pages with ink.  So I wondered what would happen if I treated the pages with gesso or matte gel medium.
I took our Family Scripture Keeper Bible (not a technical term, just our name) and treated two of the not-so-essential pages.  One with gesso and one with the gel medium.
White gesso and matte gel medium and art tools used to apply them to my journaling Bible.
 I decided on a few types of inks and paint that I frequently use and would like to use (below).  Then I also decided to add a drop of  acrylic ink and a drop of alcohol ink (not pictured).
Paints, sprays, and markers used in my journaling Bible
I applied them to the gessoed page (left) and the matte medium page (right). 
Testing paints, inks, and markers on gesso and gel medium covered pages.
 After a couple hours of drying time this is how the pages looked from the backside.  Below is the opposite side of the page that was coated with gesso.  The only thing that seemed to seep through was the alcohol ink.  The only reason I think it came through was because I only put a thin layer of gesso on the page.  I did this so that the page could still be, somewhat, legible.  I figured that if you are going to use this in a journaling Bible, then you would probably still want to read the page.  (Please avert your eyes from the washi tape.  The pages where ripped to begin with.)
The Back side of the Bible page treated with white gesso.
 The page with the matte gel medium has more leakage than the gesso page.  However, the only things that ran through where those that were of intense color, like the alcohol ink and acrylic ink.  You could see ghosts of the Pitt pen and watercolor, but not to the point of being a distraction on the backside of the page.
Back side of Bible page treated with matte gel medium and what soaked through.
Destruction of my Bible is not something I look forward to and you probably don't either!  Hopefully this will help you to know when you need to treat your pages before journaling and with which medium.  Please let me know if you have tried any other mediums to coat your pages and how it worked out.  Now go try something new today!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A peek into my week

As a follower of Christ, I don't just go to church on Sunday and then lay it all aside til next week.  My hope and ambition is to constantly be in communion with my Savior and Father.
Romans 8:15 tells us that God is our Father.   If I want to have a healthy and close relationship with "My Father" then I need to talk with Him, be with Him, and get to know Him.  In order to do this I need to invest some time and effort into the relationship with my Heavenly Father.
There are days that I worship or commune with God in different ways.  As you know, I love to journal.  In my Bible, in a notebook, in an altered journal, or anywhere.  Then there is music.  My family and I love all kinds of Christian music and podcasts.  Of course, we listen to sermons at church, as well as, sermon podcasts throughout the week.  We read the Word most days.  Lastly, we try to serve in any way we are called.
Visual notes on Sunday SermonWith this in mind, I want to introduce a method to my madness.  My blog posts will, hopefully, spotlight one of these areas of worship. 
It would only be fitting if Sunday were a day of "Sermons."  For instance, this week's sermon brought a picture into my mind about Jesus standing on all the "stuff" we let control our lives instead of Him.  God is in control of it all, not the stuff of this world.  I didn't take many notes, but I think the visual note taking really helped to cement Phillippians 3:7-16 into my mind.  That and my pastors passion in reaching us with the message.
I hope you are off to a great start with your new year and are pressing on toward a goal that will bring glory to God and fullness to your life.